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Illuminating the speed of sand – quantifying sediment transport using optically stimulated luminescence

Sediment deposits in Pokhara, Nepal

Contracting authority (client):


Project period:

03/2019 - 09/2020

Project description:

How much time does a grain of sand take to travel from its mountain origin to the depositional areas in the oceans? Eroded rock is transported only gradually, often only during extreme runoff events. The path of a grain of sand is therefore erratic, possibly with long periods of interim storage in the channel bed and deposits along the river. The project "Illuminating the speed of sand", funded by the Volkswagen Foundation, aims to apply the method of Optically Stimulated Luminescence (OSL) for the characterization of transport processes. The sensitivity of quartz crystals and feldspars to exposure to sunlight will be investigated by laboratory and field experiments. If our experiments are successful, the technique would provide new insights into the transport processes, which are usually hidden from instrumental observation.

Project leader

    Sediment deposits in Pokhara, Nepal